Former Runway Model has a Message for Teens and Tweens

In 2004 the Dove Soap company did women everywhere a big service by conducting an international study on beauty.  They asked women around the world what they thought of themselves and how the media impact their body image and self esteem. The report, among other things, noted that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.  Another stunning statistic from the same report showed that a majority of the American women questioned, an astonishing 81%, agreed that the media as in magazines, advertising, Hollywood, TV programs or all of the above, add to a woman’s insecurity by setting an impossibly high bar when it comes to the idea or the accepted standard of beauty.  They followed that study with a media campaign about body image and beauty featuring real women of all shapes and sizes, not super skinny runway models in dire need of a decent meal.  The Campaign for Real Beauty was aimed as helping women achieve healthy life-style and self esteem by taking good care of themselves and not getting stuck on being a size “0” when your body is a natural “10” or “12” as is the case with most American women.  Dove is still doing what it can to spread the word about real beauty coming from the inside out.

While Dove has made a positive impact, there is still so much work to be done especially when it comes to younger women and girls in the very susceptible tween to teen years. Research shows that the average age for a young girl to start dieting is eight years old.  Other studies show that 81% of ten year old girls say they are afraid of being fat. Last year in this country the most popular graduation gift for high school girls in 2009 was plastic surgery or to be more specific, breast enhancements.  Cover Girl Culture: Awakening the Media Generation. (www.covergirlculture.com) is a documentary directed by a former Elite International Model, Nicole Clark.  Clark’s documentary which has the Parents TV Council Seal of Approval reveals some of her own struggles in the competitive modeling industry and also hits the important issues of eating disorders, self-esteem, and the media’s sexualization of girls head on.  Earlier this year a Kaiser Family Foundation report found that young people now use the media 53 hours a week and with one out every four TV commercials containing a message about appearance this documentary can be a valuable resource for Moms, Dads, and schools as well.  There is even an educational version of the video that offers a free study guide for 8th through 12th graders.

As the Parents TV Council explains the documentary does not contain harmful content. There are images of models and some of the photo layouts used do show young girls in lingerie but the purpose of the images, according to the PTC, is educational. They are used to demonstrate how the media and advertising industries sell sex and distorted body images to children.   In addition to exposing the media agenda, the documentary also encourages teens to reject the harmful messages.

While the video is not coming from a faith perspective, it is filled with the timeless truths that will resonate especially with Catholics.  We are blessed to have the teachings of John Paul II, Pope Paul VI, Pope Benedict XVI, and most importantly our Lord Himself to remind us that we are not objects, but precious individuals who are created in the image and likeness of the God.  These beautiful truths of human dignity can be expressed or revealed in many ways.  Cover Girl Culture is one of them.

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About the Author

Teresa’s latest book, God's Bucket List: Heaven's Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond is available on Amazon and one of her other popular books, Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture has been on the Catholic best-seller list since its release in October, 2011.

Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and motivational speaker with nearly 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper.

In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company. Many of you remember Teresa from her days in the Detroit media, especially her awarding winning radio work and her many years on Channel 7 and Channel 50.

Teresa’s daily morning radio program, “Catholic Connection”, is produced by Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, and now heard on over 150 Catholic stations nationwide. Her talk show is also carried on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.

Teresa is a columnist and special correspondent for the national Catholic newspaper, “Our Sunday Visitor”. She appears frequently on EWTN Catholic Television, most recently covering the March for Life in Washington D.C. Teresa has also been featured on “The O’Reilly Factor” and Fox News.

In 2008 Teresa was chosen as only one of 250 delegates from around the world to attend the Vatican Women’s Congress held in Rome marking the 20th Anniversary of John Paul the Second’s Letter entitled “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”

As a speaker Teresa travels around the country addressing media awareness and activism, as well as sharing her reversion to the Catholic Church. Her first book, “Noise—How Our Media Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families”, published by Ascension Press is a Catholic best-seller and now in its second printing. Her second book, “Newsflash! My Surprising Journey from Secular Anchor to Media Evangelist” was published in September of 2008. Teresa has also co-authored a series of best selling Catholic books called “All Things Girl” for tween girls focusing on modesty and chastity.

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